When I did the write-up after my interview with new Red Sox OF Ryan Kalish last year, I predicted that he would be a BIG hit with Red Sox Nation when he finally arrived in Boston (though I’ll admit that I thought he’d get here in 2011, not 2010).

I discussed his experience as a football player and the fact that he seemed to bring a gridiron toughness to the baseball diamond nearly every single day… and I suggested he would eventually be the successor to Trot Nixon as the head of the group of hard-nosed Red Sox players affectionately known as, “The Dirt Dogs”.

How am I doing so far?

This article isn’t about the fact that he’s hitting .500 three games into his pro career, it is not about the fact that he misplayed a ball in front of The Green Monster the other night (left field at Fenway is notorious for challenging even veteran left fielders), and it’s not about the fact that he has already thrown out a runner trying to score at home plate.

It’s about what happened last night at home plate, and afterwards.

In the 7th inning of a game in which his team trailed by four runs, Kalish stood at second base thanks to a double he had ripped into center field. With one out, teammate Daniel Nava singled into right field and the young left fielder did what he was supposed to do—he tried to score.

As Kalish approached, Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana stood astride the plate, much in the same way we have seen Jason Varitek do a hundred times—left leg extended to block the plate as he looked towards the right side of the diamond awaiting the throw.

It was the proverbial bang-bang play at the plate—ball and runner arrived simultaneously, Santana turned to apply the tag, and Kalish lowered his shoulder as if he were a middle linebacker making a tackle at the goal line on fourth down.

Kalish inadvertently and unintentionally hit him a bit low, in the vicinity of the left knee. As he bowled over the young backstop, the catcher’s knee bent backwards and outwards, apparently in a way that the human body is not designed to bend.

Santana held onto the ball. Kalish was called out by umpire Mike Dimuro. It was a good, hard baseball play—a Dirt Dog play.

But Santana did not bounce right back to his feet. He lay on the ground in obvious pain for nearly 15 minutes, eventually having his left leg immobilized in an air cast before being transported off the field on the back of a golf cart. NESN played the replay several times.

It was a clean play, with a seemingly ugly result.

Red Sox fans demonstrated once again why they are the BEST fans in all of sports by giving Santana a standing ovation as he was taken from the field (and for all of you haters out there, it isn’t just me saying so—Forbes Magazine today released it’s list of the top fans in all of sports, and Sox fans were rated Numero Uno)

This was baseball the way it was meant to be played.

There was no Manny Ramirez hot dog in Kalish. He wasn’t wearing shoulder pads and a helmet, but he may as well have been. The play was precisely illustrative of the reason I predicted he will be a fan favorite here in Boston for many years to come. I REALLY like the way this kid plays the game.

There was some potentially good news in the aftermath, as preliminary tests suggest Santana may have avoided a serious knee injury. He was shipped back to Cleveland this morning for an MRI, but Indians manager Manny Acta sounded a hopeful note in the vistor’s dressing room last night.

In the Red Sox dugout, manager Terry Francona said he did not even want to see the replay. For his part, Kalish said: “I knew it was bad. I just knew it was something bad and I don’t want to watch it.”

He would later demonstrate a lot of class, calling Santana on the phone to express his remorse for the outcome of the play. Afterwards, Kalish said: “It was a hard slide. I’ve already talked to him and he’s doing a lot better than they thought. I feel awful.”

This was baseball the way it was meant to be played. This wasn’t Pete Rose taking a cheap shot by bowling over catcher Ray Fosse in an All-Star game, this was hard baseball being played by a pair of good young prospects as the Dog Days of August got underway.

This morning, I took my daily gander at bleacherreport.com, a site where I often contribute articles, and unfortunately spied an article by Tom Dubberke (who is a self-proclaimed baseball enthusiast and SF Giants fan).

The title of the article was: “Cleveland Indians Catcher Carlos Santana Got What He Deserved.” It made me cringe! He said Santana positioned himself in the wrong manner in the wrong place while trying to block the plate and, thus, “got what he deserved.”

Can you imagine that?

You can tell good ol’ Tom never played a game behind the plate. I did… for MANY years.

I was never taught to position myself at the corner of the plate with my knee positioned just so, as good ‘ol Tom asserts. I was taught to block access to the plate… and I typically did so in much the same way as Varitek routinely does and Santana did last night (although I usually put more of my big body in front of the plate, forcing the runner to go through my torso, instead of at my leg).

As big as I am, I took more than my share of lumps in home plate collisions, usually ending up on my back with my bell rung after my head bounced off the ground. It was good, hard baseball (or softball). I did what I was trained to do and the runner did what he was trained to do. Sometimes he was out, and sometimes he was safe. But no one ever got injured.

These plays happen all of the time, and rarely is anyone ever hurt. Injuries like last night are the exception, not the rule, and no one EVER ‘deserves’ an injury! (Do you hear that, Tom?!)

I tip my cap to Kalish and Santana. I pray the tests on the Indians catcher show nothing more than a sprain, and that he’ll be back behind the plate in a week or so.

I also pray that people like Tom Dubberke use better judgment when penning articles, especially when they show so little understanding for how the game is taught and played.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com